Thursday, October 16, 2008

Discrimination, assessment centers, and handshakes

The title sounds like a strange combination, no? That's because it refers to three separate pieces of research published in the September 2008 Journal of Applied Psychology.

First, Umphress et al. describe a study that demonstrates how important leaders can be in setting the tone for selection. Specifically, the authors found that when authority figures focused team selection decisions on job performance factors, individuals that had a tendency to discriminate based on social dominance orientation were less likely to do so. Implication? To help avoid discriminatory hiring and promotion decisions, focus decision makers on job-related performance factors. That way, they're less likely to rely on their own biases.

Next, Meriac et al. with a meta-analysis of the incremental validity of assessment center (AC) ratings over other assessment tools. Specifically, the authors found that AC ratings explained a "sizable proportion of variance in job performance" beyond cognitive ability and personality tests. Good news for fans of assessment centers out there.

Last but not least, Stewart, et al. describe the results of a study of 98 undergraduate students that participated in mock interviews. In the words of the authors, "quality of handshake was related to hiring recommendations." How exactly does that work? Apparently how you shake hands sends messages about your degree of extraversion (above and beyond your appearance). The authors also found that the effect seemed to be stronger for women than men. Implication? For those of you interviewing for sales jobs, pay attention to your handshake!

Honorable mentions:

- Judge & Livingston on how traditional gender role orientation impacts the wage gap

- Cascio & Aguinis on trends in I/O psychology from 1963 - 2007 (good stuff; read here)

- Chiaburu & Harrison's meta-analysis on how co-workers impact job performance

- Levi & Fried on differences between African Americans and Whites on attitudes toward affirmative action programs

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